AG gets $240K settlement from school director who abused funds
New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman on Thursday announced that his office has obtained a $240,000 agreement to resolve its investigation into self-dealing by Silvia Kuper, executive director of Therapy and Learning Center Inc. in Windsor Terrace.
The Attorney General’s investigation into the Brooklyn not-for-profit corporation, which provides pre-school and early intervention services for special needs and non-special needs children, found that Kuper used $220,000 in school funds to pay for online personal counseling services and exorbitant leases on a series of luxury Audi A-8 sedans registered in her name.
The total amount to be paid by Kuper includes full restitution of the $220,000 in improper charges and $20,000 to defray the costs of the Attorney General’s investigation.
“It’s sad any time my office finds evidence of self-dealing by those who work in and lead New York’s important not-for-profit sector organizations. But charging personal expenses on the backs of children, particularly those with disabilities, is beyond the pale,” Attorney General Schneiderman said.
The settlement requires Kuper, 53, to resign her positions as the executive director and a board member of TLC, which enrolls approximately 140 students and employs 75 staff members. It also bars her from any future service as an officer or director of any New York not-for-profit organization.
Attorney General Schneiderman’s Charities Bureau found that from 2007 to 2010, Kuper, who oversaw the charity’s finances, used TLC’s corporate American Express card to charge over $130,000 in fees at several websites that provided her with personal counseling services which had no legitimate business purpose.
The investigation also determined that between 2007 and 2012, Kuper leased a series of Audi A8 4.2 Quattro sedans in her name and made lease payments of approximately $1,300 per month, all with organization funds. Although Kuper was authorized to lease a car by TLC’s board, she abused that authority by leasing an unreasonably expensive car entirely inappropriate for the head of a state-funded, not-for-profit preschool, according to Schneiderman.
Under the $240,000 settlement, Kuper will pay $220,000 in restitution and $20,000 to defray the costs of the Attorney General’s investigation. Of the restitution fund, $77,000 will be held in escrow pending a determination by the State and City Departments of Education whether either agency was overbilled by TLC as a result of Kuper’s improper expenditures.
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